Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Clair Krepps, March 5, 2001

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:14 - Recording with Duke Ellington

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Partial Transcript: Hello?

Segment Synopsis: Krepps recollects a story about recording with Duke Ellington and the Duke Ellington Orchestra at Capitol Records in the late 1940s or early 1950s. In the story, Ellington composed a song on the spot and then the musicians in his band started to improvise and soon the entire orchestra was playing the song, which became known as '106th Park Avenue.' He then recalls the composition of the song 'Blue Light (Translucency).'

Keywords: African Americans; Balance; Blue Light (Translucency) (Song); Capitol Records; Christy, June (Artist); Davis, Kay (Artist); Discs; Duke Ellington Orchestra (Artist); Ellington, Edward Kennedy "Duke" (Artist); Equalizers; Harlem (New York, N.Y.); Improvisation; Krepps, Clair; Lee, Peggy (Artist); Mosaic Records; Pathé; Radio transcription; Radios; Recorders, direct to disc; Recorders, tape; Recording lathes, Scully; Recording studios; Records, kinds of: lacquer; Rehearsal; Rehearsing; Sutherland, Artie

Subjects: African American; Capitol Records, Inc.; Christy, June, 1925-1990; Davis, Kay; Davis, Kay, 1920-2012; Duke Ellington Orchestra.; Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974.; Harlem (New York, N.Y.); Lathes; Lee, Peggy; Lee, Peggy, 1920-2002.; Mosaic Records; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.809033, -73.948372
00:08:21 - Work with Paddy Chayefsky

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Partial Transcript: After that I doing--(clears throat)--I was recording a movie song with the famous producer Paddy Chayefsky.

Segment Synopsis: Krepps talks about recording the movie score of a movie starring Kim Novak for writer/producer Paddy Chayefsky and conductor George Bass. He talks about changing the tone of the score just using arrangement. He also talks about Pathe Records.

Keywords: Arrangers; Audio engineering; Balance; Bass, George (Artist); Bassman, George; Cellos; Chayefsky, Sidney "Paddy" (Artist); Film scores; Instruments; Krepps, Clair; Motion pictures; Music; Music producers; Novak, Kim (Artist); Pathé; Recording; Salaries; Sessions; Tone

Subjects: Chayefsky, Paddy, 1923-1981; History of science and technology; Music.; Novak, Kim; Novak, Kim, 1968-; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

00:10:42 - Recording studios

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Partial Transcript: The Pathé studio, yeah.

Segment Synopsis: Krepps recalls the recording studios in which he worked, such as Pathé and Capitol Records. He talks about the locations of these studios. He also talks about producing film and television scores, such as the television series 'Victory at Sea.'

Keywords: Adams, Clay; Addams, Clay; Capitol Records; Consoles (recording); Film scores; Krepps, Clair; Motion pictures; Music scores; National Broadcasting Company (NBC); New York (N.Y.); Pathé; Recording studios; Sutherland, Artie; Victory at Sea (Television program); World War II

Subjects: Capitol Records, Inc.; History of science and technology; Motion pictures; Music.; National Broadcasting Company; New York (N.Y.); Pathé Entertainment (Firm); Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Victory at sea (Television program); World War, 1939-1945

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7128, -74.0059
00:13:21 - Recording film and television scores

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Partial Transcript: Um, at the same--you started with Capitol and you were doing recordings--

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses the recording of film and television scores at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, such as the film scores for 'Anna Karenina' and 'Dr. Kildare.'

Keywords: Anna Karenina (Motion picture); Audiences; Barrymore, Lionel (Artist); Discs; Dr. Kildare (Television program); Film scores; Herron, Joe; Krepps, Clair; MGM Records; MGM Theater of the Air (Radio program); Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Motion pictures; Music scores; Orchestras; Radio discs; Radioman’s Union; Radios; Record manufacturing; Recorders, tape; Recording; Recording tape; Records, kinds of: lacquer masters; Rooney, Micky (Artist); Television scores; The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE); Transcription; Unions

Subjects: Anna Karenina (Motion picture : 1948); Audio equipment industry; Barrymore, Lionel, 1878-1954; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.; Motion pictures; Orchestra; Radios; Record labels.; Rooney, Mickey.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America

00:17:07 - Recording lathes

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Partial Transcript: Well, you know, Susan, uh, I had the privilege of talking to two of the men that worked with Tom Edison, believe it or not.

Segment Synopsis: Krepps recalls time spent with two men who knew Thomas Edison and then discusses recording manufacturing in the 1940s and 1950s.

Keywords: Bell Labs; Capitol Records; Columbia Records, Inc.; Edison, Thomas; Electromechanical recording system; Krepps, Clair; Machine shops; RCA Victor; Recording lathes, Altec; Recording lathes, Neumann; Recording lathes, Presto; Recording lathes, Scully; Recording systems; Recording, electrical; Saliba, George; Scully, J.J.; Scully, Larry; Scully, Thomas; Van Epps, Fred; Van Epps, George; Western Electric

Subjects: Capitol Records, Inc.; Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931.; History of science and technology; Lathes; Music; Neumann; Record labels.; Scully, Thomas; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Van Epps, George, 1910-1978; Western Electric Company.

00:22:27 - Styli

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Partial Transcript: And this was, uh--how did that, I mean, was this a, a--what do they call it? A hot stylus? Is that--

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses styli for recording lathes. He also talks about the development of using a heated stylus to record, an innovation first thought of by audio engineer Emory Cook. He then talks about William Bachman, inventor of a heating element to use on a stylus. Krepps also talks about working with the Capps Company to create styluses made out of different materials such as diamond, ruby, and sapphire.

Keywords: Bachman, William; Capps, Frank L.; Christmas tree effect; Clair, Krepps; Cook, Emory; David Rose Orchestra (Artist); Heated stylus; Heating elements; High fidelity; Marcucci, Dick; Oscillators; Quality control; Record manufacturing; Recording lathes; Records, kinds of: lacquer; Stylus; Stylus, diamond; Stylus, ruby; Stylus, sapphire; Transformers

Subjects: Audio equipment industry; Bachman, William S.; Cook, Emory, 1913-2002; David Rose Orchestra; History of science and technology; Music.; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Stylus

00:28:27 - Lacquer records

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Partial Transcript: Cause you start in 1946, um, it seems to me that between 1946 and maybe, 1953, all this stuff becomes so much more--

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses the different types of lacquers used in record manufacturing, which begins in the mid-1940s. He talks about the use of silver in recording lacquer masters for disc recordings. He also talks about recording using recording lathes.

Keywords: Electronics; Krepps, Clair; Presto discs; Record manufacturing; Record plating; Record pressing; Recording and manufacturing materials; Recording lathes; Recording lathes, Presto; Recording tapes, kinds of: masters; Recording, direct to disc; Records, kinds of: lacquer; Records, kinds of: lacquer masters; Records, kinds of: silver

Subjects: Audio equipment industry; History of science and technology; Lathes; Music.; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

00:32:19 - Early Ampex tape recorders

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Partial Transcript: Wow! Oh, more details!

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses his experience with early Ampex tape recorders.

Keywords: Ampex Electric Corporation; Audio engineering; Capitol Records; Krepps, Clair; Multi-tracking; Recorders, tape; Recording tape

Subjects: Ampex Corporation; Audio equipment industry; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

00:33:17 - Recording over temporary telephones lines

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Partial Transcript: Now this was when you were in the studio that was on Broadway?

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses recording large orchestras remotely in places such as Carnegie Hall. He describes utilizing telephone lines in order to record on location. He describes recording large orchestras, such as the Alvino Rey Orchestra, in this manner.

Keywords: Alvino Rey Orchestra (Artist); Audio engineering; Carnegie Hall; Equalizers; Kenton, Stan (Artist); Krepps, Clair; Mastering lines; Mastering rooms; Mastering studios; Musicians; Oscillators; Recording lathes, Scully; Recording studios; Remote recording; Rey, Alvino (Artist); Stan Kenton Orchestra; Telephone lines; Telephones; Wires

Subjects: Alvino Rey Orchestra; Audio equipment industry; Carnegie Hall (New York, N.Y.); History of science and technology; Kenton, Stan; Lathes; Music; Record labels.; Rey, Alvino, 1908-2004; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Stan Kenton Orchestra; Telephone lines.; Telephone.

00:36:08 - Capitol Records mastering studios

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Partial Transcript: Hm. So how frequently did you do recordings in that Capitol mastering studio?

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses his mastering studio at Capitol Records and his work at the studio of WMGM, the radio station of MGM Records. He describes recording various artists, such as Peggy Lee and Stan Kenton on location. He then talks about fellow audio engineer Frank Abbey and then his move to MGM Records.

Keywords: Abbey, Frank; Capitol Records; Consoles (recording); Disc jockeys; Discs; Husing, Ted; Kenton, Stan (Artist); Krepps, Clair; Lee, Peggy (Artist); MGM Records; Mastering studios; Orchestras; Radios; Recording lathes; Recording studios; Rent; WMGM (Radio station); Whiting, Margaret (Artist)

Subjects: Audio equipment industry; Capitol Records, Inc.; History of science and technology; Husing, Ted, 1901-1962; Kenton, Stan; Lathes; Lee, Peggy; Lee, Peggy, 1920-2002.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.; Music.; Orchestra; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Stan Kenton Orchestra; Whiting, Margaret

00:38:37 - Conflict between radio engineers and audio engineers / audio engineering unions

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Partial Transcript: You know, there was a lot of animosity between the MGM radio station and the MG--MGM record company.

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses the reasons for the long-standing animosity between radio engineers and audio engineers, which he felt was due to the requirement that radio engineers have a license. He then talks about audio engineering unions, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Engineers (IBEW) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

Keywords: Broadcasting studios; Columbia Records, Inc.; Communism; Docherty, Bob; Free agents; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); Krepps, Clair; Licensing; MGM Records; National Association of Broadcasters (NAB); Putnam, Bill; RCA Records; Radio engineers; Radios; Recording; Recording studios; Stoddard, Bill; Unions; WMGM (Radio station); WOR (Radio station)

Subjects: Communism.; Docherty, Bob; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Putnam, Bill; RCA Records; Radio broadcasting.; Radio engineers; Radio.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; WMGM (Radio station : New York, N.Y.); WOR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7128, -74.0059
00:43:00 - Audio engineering training

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Partial Transcript: Well, you've given me more stuff, Clair.

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses the development of education programs that train audio engineers, such as Lehigh University and Muhlenberg College. Krepps talks about his training, which consisted of learning on the job.

Keywords: Audio Engineering Society (AES); Audio devices; Audio engineering; Education; Equipment; Jones, Herb; Krepps, Clair; Lehigh University; Los Angeles (Calif.); Muhlenberg College; Pennsylvania; Schools; Students; Textbooks; Training

Subjects: Audio Engineering Society; Education; Lehigh University; Los Angeles (Calif.); Muhlenberg College; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: Los Angeles (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 34.05, -118.25
00:47:03 - Emory Cook / hearing loss

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Partial Transcript: There's one other man, I don't know, I'm sure you've heard of him: Emory Cook.

Segment Synopsis: Krepps discusses legendary sound engineer Emory Cook, who Krepps feels is a genius at audio engineering. He describes going into business with Cook and Larry Scully, relating that he initially felt that Cook was "too far out" to be trusted. Krepps then talks about Cook's album, 'Speed the Parting Guest,' a percussion recording which utilized binaural recording. He then discusses his struggle with hearing loss and tinnitus as the result of his professions.

Keywords: Ampex Electric Company; Audio devices; Binaural; Capitol Records; Carroll, Jimmy (Artist); Command Records; Consoles (recording): Putnam; Cook Records; Cook, Emory; Drums; Fine, Bob; Hearing loss; High fidelity; Krepps, Clair; Light, Enoch; MGM Records; Microfusion; Microphones; New York Athletic Club; Percussion; Percussionists; Persuasive Percussion (Album); Puerto Rico; Record companies; Recorders, tape; Recording business; Recording lathes, Westrex; Scully, Larry; Snyder, Terry; Speed The Parting Guest (Hi Fi Bull In A China Shop) (Album); Stereo; Tinnitus; Tubes; Unions

Subjects: Ampex Corporation; Carroll, Jimmy; Cook, Emory, 1913-2002; Drums; Fine, Bob; Hearing impaired.; Hearing loss; High-fidelity sound systems.; Lathes; Light, Enoch, 1905-1978; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.; New York Athletic Club; Percussion; Record labels.; Snyder, Terry; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Stereophonic sound systems.; Tinnitus.; Westrex (Firm)